The Good Life in the Last Days by Mikey Lynch
What a great time of year to be reading this book! January – after holidays have been enjoyed and we’re well and truly unwound and less scheduled. It’s a great opportunity to harness the optimism of a new year and make resolutions, plan for new ventures, re-think priorities. For our family, last year was pretty much a ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ kind of experience, so we’re trying hard to head into 2019 with more intentionality. But the task of navigating it all feels more than a bit overwhelming. How are we going to shape our time this year in a way that is God-honouring and is in line with what He is doing? What will discipling our kids look like this year? How can we do a better job of stewarding our resources? Should we step up and take on more ministry responsibilities at church? The list of possibilities goes on. Given the cacophony of questions that’s swirling around inside my mind, Mikey Lynch’s discussion of godly priorities is a calm, confident voice affirming that within the complexity of life, it is possible to live well in the ways that really matter.
I love how Mikey Lynch has crystallised these questions about priorities using the example of the scene from The West Wing in his introduction, and keeps coming back to it in these opening chapters to examine exactly why Leo’s thinking is out of whack. Personally (and I admit that I’m not a West Wing tragic, so I could be wrong) I think Leo sounds like he has an ego problem. He’s addicted to the idea of his own importance and is more attracted to the idea of making a difference on the grand stage than in fulfilling his own (more boring?) responsibilities as a husband. I guess we all fall into the category of self-obsession!! Which is why it’s really great that Lynch has devoted his first chapter to refocussing on the love of God as our primary raison d’etre. Not that this is simple in itself, because God has placed us in such a complex creation in which our worship of him is mediated through our physical being as well as a network of relationships, needs, responsibilities. But it is great to be reassured that as we attempt to love God above all things and at the centre of all things, and to have His Word dwell more and more in our hearts and minds, that by His Spirit and wisdom we will be equipped to make godly decisions.
In Chapter 2 Lynch discusses the idea of friendship and this really hit home for me. Coming from a large non-Christian family and having married into a non-Christian family (my husband, thankfully, is a Christian!), I have a huge number of meaningful relationships with unbelievers. Add to this various old and new friendships with non-Christians. I feel very much like I should be ‘witnessing’ in these relationships, and yet I also know instinctively that I need to respect these friends, be a good listener, walk with them in the normal stuff of life and wait for opportunities, rather than Bible-bash them. Many of these relationships are wonderful and rewarding in themselves – I love these people! But am I truly loving them if I’m not constantly sharing Jesus? I have a very good Christian friend who tells me she is over having friendships with non-Christians who use her as a kind of agony aunt and seek her wisdom for living, but show no interest in the gospel of Jesus. Her approach now is to present the gospel and then ‘shake the dust off her feet’ if there’s no bite. Is that the way to go? I’m very keen to read on and discover how Lynch is going to dig deeper into this theme of friendship as he shifts focus into new creation concepts.
I have to say that after reading Chapters 1 & 2, I’m still very much feeling the tension of being stuck between old creation priorities and new creation priorities. At this point, I think that is Lynch’s intention. I’ve often felt the same tension as I’ve worked into the wisdom literature of the Bible (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes etc). I love the picture of wise, humble living under God’s good rule, understanding the different seasons of life - it harmonises so beautifully with my own experiences. But then I struggle sometimes to fit this with new creation priorities and the way that the gospel cuts into our day-to-day lives, forcing us to confront realities like sin, judgment, eternity, heaven and hell, forgiveness. I guess, when we focus on right living, we sometimes pick up an illusion that we can actually get it right, that we can really live a totally ethical, sustainable life under God. Obviously, the gospel quite devastatingly tells us that this is wrong. As Lynch reminds us, “Any attempt to find perfection and completion in this age is doomed to frustration or self-deception”. I’m looking forward to the coming chapters and listening to how Lynch brings these two streams together: getting stuck into thinking about how this wise, sustainable living intersects with where we are in salvation history and the urgency of the gospel.
Meet Kristen Butchatsky
I am a wife to Pete, a mum of three girls, and a music teacher. I am a long-time member of the wonderful church family St Aidan’s Anglican in Hurstville Grove, having come to Christ through a youth group ministry at age 14. I love singing, reading (obviously!!), walking my dog, Ned and going to see plays, movies and musical theatre.